LEBANON JUNCTION ee" In a time when more families than ever have been forced to rely upon charitable organizations for food, clothing and even shelter, Lebanon Junction residents struggling to buy their groceries got some good news last Monday night.
The county’s southern-most city has been selected by the Dare to Care Food Bank as the first location outside of Jefferson County to host a monthly mobile food pantry.
T.M. Wilson-Montgomery of Dare to Care’s Agency Relations department shared the good news at the City Council’s October meeting ee" with the stipulation that the city could provide a location and volunteers to help support the effort.
“This would be a great thing for Bullitt County and a great thing for Lebanon Junction. I would be thrilled if Bullitt County would lead the way,” Wilson-Montgomery told the council.
Council members, Old Fashion Days Committee members and other citizens gladly obliged.
“You don’t worry about volunteers, we’ve got them,” Mayor James “Butch” Sweat excitedly told Wilson-Montgomery.
Council member Tim Sanders agreed.
“This is something Lebanon Junction needs tremendously,” he said.
Wilson-Montgomery, council members and citizens identified the Lebanon Junction Community Center as the mobile pantry’s monthly distribution site.
Bread, pastries, produce and USDA commodities will be distributed the first Thursday of each month from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The first mobile pantry is scheduled for Oct. 22.
Wilson-Montgomery explained that Lebanon Junction was identified as underserved in the Dare to Care Food Bank area, which also serves Jefferson, Spencer, Shelby, Henry, Oldham, Trimble and Carroll counties.
The organization currently operates a stationary food pantry at Little Flock Baptist Church in the north end of the county. However, Dare to Care’s Chief Operating Officer David Schlosser said that location is inaccessible for many Lebanon Junction families. “If I lived in Lebanon Junction I don’t know that I would be able to afford the gas to get up there and get a commodity box,” he said.
Schlosser said only families living within Lebanon Junction would be eligible to access the mobile pantry, and that participants would be required to self-declare their income. “It will be very zip-code specific to Lebanon Junction. People from Shepherdsville will not be able to come down and be served, because that’s the state requirement that they cannot double-dip into the commodities,” he said.
However, Wilson-Montgomery said after participants self-declare their income on paper, Dare to Care does not double-check to see how participants utilize their food donations.
“Our objective is to feed hungry mouths,” she said.
Wilson-Montgomery said families or citizens not able to attend the mobile food pantry could have a legitimate designated agent to pick up food for them. That designated agent would have to sign-up ahead of time.
Some council and audience members were also interested in trying to find a van to provide transportation to citizens who couldn’t or didn’t have a way to get to the distribution site.
Although all the details were not finalized, Wilson-Montgomery said the mobile food pantry would happen in Lebanon Junction, adding that the program in Jefferson County had been tremendously successful.
She said volunteers need not be disappointed if only a few families show up for the first give-away. The word would get out among the community.
“Even if, when this does come to pass, it doesn’t materialize the way you hoped it would, I will understand,” Wilson-Montgomery said, ensuring the audience that Dare to Care wouldn’t pull its pantry out because of initial low attendance.
Schlosser said Dare to Care serves as many as 350 families with some of its Jefferson County mobile units. He hoped Lebanon Junction would be a pilot program for other locations in the organization’s service area, including a possible Mount Washington location. No certain plans to implement other mobile food banks have been made yet.
Schlosser said Bullitt County has more than 7,000 people living in poverty so Dare to Care recognizes the need for other food banks in the county. Lebanon Junction’s mobile pantry is just one way the organization plans to meet that need.
“Our mission is to provide nutritional food to the most vulnerable,” he said.
The audience met the conclusion of Wilson-Montgomery’s presentation with applause, signaling that the community had already embraced the mobile food pantry even before the first scheduled distribution.
Dare to Care is still searching for some additional volunteers to partner with Lebanon Junction’s mobile food pantry. For more information, call 966-3821.